THE LIVING ONE by Lewis Gannett


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An 800-pound gorilla of a horror novel: the powerful, unpredictable, and dreadfully self-indulgent tale of a centuries-old entity. First-novelist Gannett, a former waiter, is that rarity in horror, a serious (if undisciplined) stylist with original ideas as well. His story builds through 59 letters, diary fragments, ""chronicles,"" and so on, told in myriad voices--including those of teenager Torrance Spoor; Torrance's impossibly rich father, Malcolm; Sheila Massif, Torrance's schoolteacher, and Duane Allbright, a psychic. Torrance has been called away from his mom in California to live with his dad in a mansion overlooking the Atlantic; also living there are an eccentric valet, Pip; 12 ferocious hounds with hypnotic eyes; and a hothouse of sentient roses. Torrance, who's gay--there's explicit gay as well as hetero sex here--suspects that his father is a voyeur: Why else the hidden cameras trained on Torrance at all times? But soon a far worse truth unveils: Malcolm is the ""Living One,"" an entity of great psychic powers cursed from medieval times to immortality by fathering a son, then trading bodies with the son and murdering the paternal body in which the son is now trapped, generation after generation--with Torrance as new sacrifice. Turning to Sheila for help, Torrance impregnates her--and draws the attention of Duane, her lover, who realizes that Pip, the roses, and the dogs are key to Malcolm's powers. The action--and overripe prose (""I do not know. I do not know! And the pistol, where is it? He did not bring it! A knife, a knife I could find, oh I am feeling ill!')--swells to a melodramatic crescendo that twists into new life for Malcolm and Torrance--and an uncertain future. Gannett has talent to burn--and sets fire to much of it here. Wild, imaginative, and vastly overwritten, his novel enthralls yet infuriates--and leaves one yearning for his next.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
Page count: 381pp
Publisher: Random House